Father, Mother, Child.
War & Peace:
Junketsu no Maria was a simple tale, but there were several themes that it explored during its run – all of them to some degree of success. From the offset, it was clear that Maria did not stand for violence, and would do everything she could to prevent it, even at the cost of her powers, or her life. I wondered if she was going to go on a journey where she accepted the realities of war and learned to live with the fact, but that wasn’t the route we took, and I think that was for the best. Maria’s intentions were pure, the friends she made were genuine, and the trials she went through for her cause were at times painful to watch. I liked that the sense of idealism never left her, and in turn prevented the series from ever being too dark or cruel just for the sake of it.
As someone who also abhors war and violence, I was happy to see Maria’s stance on it continue from start to end, resulting in a finale that was much more positive than even I anticipated. I was waiting for something tragic to happen, but it didn’t. So whilst I’m happy about that, I also could have done with a little more. Still, what we got was well well-intended, and provided a fair (albeit simplistic, due to Maria’s nature) look at war, and the atrocities it brings. We saw fight after fight, and whilst Production I.G did a great job at making them seem impressive and large, it always felt wrong – for me, at least. Maria may not have understood all the realities of the world, but she wanted to do the right thing, and in the end it paid off.
Love & Sex:
Maria’s virginity is one of the most prevalent theme, providing numerous gags for her loveable companions to poke fun at the fact. It was another side to the story that helped the series remain a positive experience… for the most part. There were times when sex went hand-in-hand with war, and was used as a weapon against Maria. Rape and anime don’t always go well together, with many series using it for plot connivence, or showing that the creators behind the work don’t really think much of it, or care much for the victims. Thankfully, it never got that bad here. There were times when the threats of violence were seriously uncomfortable to watch, especially since it was more ‘accepted’, you could say, in that time. I’m just glad it never actually happened, but I’m still not too pleased about it being implied for so long.
I have to touch upon Joseph as well. It was obvious from the start how this was going to play out between him and Maria, but did that make it a chore to watch? Hell no. Their relationship was a slow burner, and the reward was worth it. Their interactions were always cute, and the fact that Ezekiel sealed the deal in the end was a fitting farewell. Having her reborn as their future child isn’t something I saw coming, but I’m glad it’s how the story ended.
Witches & Humans:
And also Gods. Getting to see the perspective of these three sides was a bonus, instead of forcing a narrative that paints one as being ‘the right one’ and the other two being cast as villains. I enjoyed the characters that we saw on all sides: the opinions of the villagers were important, and contrasted well with the intentions of the church when it came to Maria’s actions; the gods were the lynchpin that the series needed, keeping everything in balance and adding a nice element of fantasy to the world; the witches, though, were possibly my favourite side of the story. Even if certain characters in the series thought of them as sinful, I liked that the got to see different sides to them, from their happiness when they hung out together, to the incredible powers that they wielded in battle. Everyone in this story was important, wherever their intentions lied, and I appreciated that. Junketsu no Maria turned out to be a pretty damn good anime, with a bunch of likeable characters, a nice balance of religion and magic, and to top it off, a happy ending!